[News] Khaled Mesh’al lays out new Hamas policy direction

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Sep 7 10:58:03 EDT 2010

Khaled Mesh’al lays out new Hamas policy direction

Sunday, 05 September 2010 00:33

This is the most recent interview with Khaled 
Mesh'al who, since 1996, has been the Chairman of 
the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) Political 
Bureau. After the assassination of Hamas leader 
Abdul ‘Aziz Rantisi in 2004, Mesh'al became the overall leader of the movement.

In this interview with the Jordanian Al-Sabeel 
newspaper in July 2010, Mesh'al lays out the 
policy direction of Hamas on a number of critical 
issues: negotiations with Israel, international 
relations, Jews, Christians, women, among other 
issues. The interview – which was conducted over 
many hours – has been received as significant in 
the Arab world and is regarded as a clear 
indication of positions that Hamas wants to 
pursue, especially with regard to future 
attitudes towards Israel. It is an important 
piece articulating, in their own words, the 
perspectives of Hamas' leaders, and is critical 
reading for all observers of the Middle East, and 
all policy-makers for whom the Middle East is 
important. The Afro-Middle East Centre (AMEC) 
translated this interview into English to make it 
accessible to a wider audience, and allow for 
greater understanding – especially in the 
English-speaking world – of the political 
perspectives of a movement which has become one 
of the most important role-players in the Middle East today.

On negotiations

Do you reject, in principle, negotiations with 
the enemy? If negotiations could not be conducted 
with the enemy, is it possible to do so with a 
friend? Does Hamas reject the principle of 
negotiations outright, or do you reject its form, conduct and results?

This is definitely a thorny and sensitive issue, 
and many people prefer to avoid any discussion of 
it, and tend not to take any clear position on it 
for fear of negative reactions or 
misinterpretations. The sensitive and critical 
nature of this issue is compounded by the dark 
shadows that are cast as a result of the bitter 
experiences of Palestinian-Israeli and 
Arab-Israeli negotiations. People are influenced 
by these experiences, and are extremely sensitive 
towards the idea of "negotiations", particularly 
with regard to the collective mind and mood of 
the nation. There is now, in many quarters, 
loathing for and aversion towards the concept of 
negotiations. This is quite understandable and 
natural, but this does not preclude tackling the 
issue thoroughly and sorting through matters 
carefully so as to set every detail into context, God willing.

It is indisputable that negotiating with the 
enemy is not rejected, either legally or 
rationally; indeed, there are some stages during 
a conflict among enemies when negotiations are 
required and become necessary. Both from a 
rational perspective and from legal logic, it is 
true that negotiations as a means and a tool may 
be acceptable and legitimate at certain points in 
time, and rejected and prohibited at other times; 
that is, it is not rejected in itself nor is it rejected all the time.

In Islamic history, in the era of the Prophet 
(peace be upon him), and in subsequent ages – at 
the time of Salahuddin [Saladin], for example – 
negotiation with the enemy was conducted, but 
within a clear framework and a specific 
philosophy, within a context, vision, rules and 
regulations governing this negotiation. This is 
in stark contrast to the wretched approach taken 
by those negotiation professionals who consider 
it a way of life and the sole strategic option in 
the service of which all other options are ruled out.

If resistance itself, honourable and esteemed as 
it is, is a means and not an end, does it make 
sense to make negotiations an end, an only option 
and a constant approach, rather than being a 
means and a tactic to fall back on when necessary 
and when the context requires it?

The concept in the Qur'an is clear, when God 
Almighty says: "And if they incline to peace, 
incline (you also to peace), and trust in God." 
This implies that negotiation is acceptable, 
reasonable and logical for us as advocates of a 
just cause when the enemy is forced to resort to 
it, when they come to us ready for negotiation 
and for paying the price, and to respond to our 
demands. However, if we seek it desperately and 
consider it our only option, then we will be the 
ones paying the price. Those who are forced to 
negotiate are those who usually pay the price. 
Hence God Almighty says in another verse: "Do not 
weaken and call for peace when you have the upper hand."

We go back to the first verse: "And if they 
incline to peace, incline (you also to peace), 
and trust in God", which is preceded by God 
Almighty's saying: "Prepare for them what you can 
of power, including steeds of war to terrify the 
enemy of Allah and your enemy." What does this 
mean? It means that possessing power and its 
means is what drives the enemy forcibly towards 
peace, and that the enemy's inclination to peace 
and negotiation is a result of jihad, resistance 
and the possession of power. Those who consider 
negotiation without resistance and without any 
power cards are virtually heading for surrender.

In the science of strategy and conflict 
management, negotiation is an extension to war, 
and a form of war management. What you obtain by 
negotiating at the table is a product of your 
condition on the ground, and an outcome of the 
balance of power in the field. If you are 
vanquished in the field, you will certainly be 
defeated in the negotiations as well. Just as war 
requires a balance of power, negotiations and 
peace each require a balance of power, for peace 
cannot be made when one party is powerful and the 
other weak; otherwise, this will be surrender. 
The United States did not make peace with Japan 
and Germany after World War II, but, rather, 
imposed on them surrender and a pact of 
compliance and submission. In short, peace is 
made by the powerful and not the weak; 
negotiations may serve the powerful but not the weak.

The situation regarding the conflict with Israeli 
occupation is different, as this is a case of a 
body alien to the region, and which came from 
outside and imposed itself on a land and a 
people, drove people away from their land, and 
replaced them with an immigrant diaspora from all 
over the world. This is, therefore, a complex 
situation which must be dealt with delicately.

When objective conditions and requirements for 
negotiation are available, especially the 
existence of a situation where sufficient balance 
and relative equilibrium are present; when there 
is proven need for it at the appropriate time – 
without hurry or delay – then it could be one of 
the options we resort to as a mechanism, means 
and tool, not as an objective or an end, not as a 
permanent condition or a strategic option. 
Negotiation is a tactical instrument, and just as 
war is not a permanent condition and has its 
requirements and conditions, so too does negotiation.

With this clear view of negotiations, and when it 
is exercised with great caution and under strict 
rules at the right time, it will be acceptable 
and useful in the context of conflict management; 
otherwise it will lead only to surrender and 
submission to the enemy's hegemony and 
conditions, and will result in the neglect of 
rights and a continuous decline in the level of 
demands and political positions.

Unfortunately, the Arab and Palestinian condition 
regarding this issue is – mostly – very bad; it 
is a vulnerable position, with no bargaining 
chips, support, manoeuvre or margin for 
ambiguity. The Palestinian ranks are fully 
exposed, so they go to peace declaring it to be 
their only strategic option. When your enemy is 
aware that you have no option but to negotiate, 
and you talk of nothing but peace, and have no 
other option, what will force them to make concessions to you?

The Palestinian negotiators say: "Negotiation is 
the option, the course and the only plan." They 
coordinate security with the enemy and implement 
the "Road Map" and its security requirements 
freely, with Israel offering nothing in return. 
What is there to force Olmert or Netanyahu to grant the Palestinians anything?

Negotiation in the Palestinian case is out of its 
objective context; it is, merely from the 
perspective of political logic, lacking 
resistance and not based on the necessary power 
balance. The Vietnamese – for instance – 
negotiated with the Americans as the latter were 
retreating; thus negotiations were useful for 
turning the last page on American occupation and 
aggression. You are successful in negotiation and 
in imposing your conditions on the enemy 
depending on the number of power cards you have on the ground.

Hence, for negotiation not to be a risky and 
onerous process, you need to make clear to the 
enemy – not only in words, but in deed as well – 
your message that you are open to all options. 
The negotiator cannot succeed without basing his 
position on the multiplicity of options, meaning 
that, inasmuch as you are ready for negotiation, 
you are also ready and able to go to war. If 
negotiation reaches a deadlock, you must be 
prepared to go to war, attrition or resistance; 
otherwise negotiation will be useless. We must 
remember that negotiations during the wars of old 
were often conducted on the battlefield, and the 
negotiators would either reach a solution, or resume the war.

Negotiation is a tool and a tactic in the service 
of a strategy and is not a strategy in itself; it 
is not a substitute for a strategy of resistance 
and confrontation with the occupation.

Negotiation needs to be based on unity at a 
national level. If one party sees benefit in a 
certain step towards negotiation, and pursues 
such a decision alone and without referring to 
the people, they will be placing themselves in a 
difficult situation and will grant the enemy an 
opportunity which it will certainly use against 
them. This could also cause the negotiators to 
make significant concessions for fear that they 
might later be forced to acknowledge the failure 
of their negotiation option; thus they prioritise 
their own interest over the national one in order 
not to be exposed in front of their people and others.

Negotiation has its specific spaces and domains 
and is not an absolute option in all matters. 
There are issues that should not be negotiated, 
such as the critical constants. Negotiation is a 
mechanism and a tactic within specific margins 
and domains; no one in their right mind would 
negotiate on everything, especially not on the 
principles. In business, negotiation is often on 
profits and not on business assets. 
Unfortunately, the current experience, especially 
of the Palestinian negotiations, is that all these rules have been abandoned.

In all honesty and courage I say: negotiation is 
not absolutely prohibited or forbidden, be it 
from a legal or political perspective, or in view 
of the experiences of the nation and humanity, or 
the practices of the resistance movements and 
revolutions throughout history. However, it must 
be subject to equations, regulations, 
calculations, circumstances, contexts and proper 
management, for without these it becomes a negative and destructive tool.

Regarding the Palestinian case, we say that 
negotiation with Israel today is a wrong choice. 
A proposal was put forward to Hamas directly to 
negotiate with Israel but we refused. Some from 
among the Hamas leadership received a proposal to 
meet with a number of Israeli leaders, some of 
them in power, such as [Israeli Deputy Prime 
Minister and Shas Party leader] Eli Yishai, and 
others belonging to the peace camp. Hamas has rejected these offers.

Negotiations today – under the current balance of 
power – is in the service of the enemy, and does 
not serve the Palestinian side. The conflict on 
the ground has not developed in a manner that has 
forced the Zionist enemy to resort to 
negotiation; it refuses to this day to withdraw 
from the land, and does not recognise Palestinian 
rights. Thus negotiation in such conditions is a kind of fruitless gamble.

In light of our weakness and the imbalance of 
power, Israel is using negotiations as a tool to 
improve its relations and polish its image before 
the international community, and using it to gain 
time so as to create new facts on the ground 
through settlement-building, expelling people, 
Judaising of Jerusalem and the demolition of its 
neighbourhoods. It also uses negotiations as a 
cover to distract attention from its crimes and 
to water down Palestinian demands. Israel is 
exploiting negotiations to normalise its 
relations with the Arab and Islamic world and to 
penetrate it, and to distort the nature of the 
conflict; Israel is the sole beneficiary of the negotiations as they stand.

Negotiations under the existing imbalance of 
power is a subjugation of the Palestinian side to 
the requirements, conditions and dictates of the 
Israeli occupation; this is not an equal process, 
for just as there is currently no parity in the 
field of confrontation, there is also no parity around the negotiating table.

The issue of recognising the Zionist entity 
raises much debate. There is also talk of legal 
recognition in contrast to realistic or pragmatic 
recognition. What is the position of Hamas on this issue?

Our position regarding the acknowledgement of the 
occupation's legality is clear and settled, and 
we do not hide or conceal it. Recognising Israel 
has been laid down as a condition for the 
international community opening up to Hamas, and 
so this has become an obstacle in our way. But we 
did not care, and we showed determination to 
withstand this challenge, as recognition means 
legitimising the occupation and conferring 
legitimacy upon Israel's aggression, settlement, 
Judaisation, murders, arrests and other crimes 
and atrocities against our people and our land. 
This is unacceptable according to international 
law and human values, not to mention our religion.

It is unacceptable to legitimise occupation and 
theft of land. Occupation is a crime, theft is a 
crime, and should not be legitimised under any 
circumstances. These are uncontroversial concepts 
in the common human understanding, and so is the 
conception of the Palestinian victim whose land 
was usurped. This is an issue tied to our human 
existence, and it contrasts with recognising the 
legitimacy of occupation and usurpation, not to 
mention the patriotic and religious feelings, 
cultural affiliation and historical presence, which all link us to this land.

Others have fallen into this trap due to their 
ineffectiveness and submission to external 
pressures, and they thought that bowing to these 
conditions and pressures may make it easier for 
them to advance in their political agenda. 
However, it was practically demonstrated that 
they have paid an exorbitant price for an 
illusion. They were wrong in their logic of 
interests, and wrong in their logic of principles.

We reject the issue of recognition in both the 
legal and pragmatic senses. There is a difference 
between saying there is an enemy called Israel on 
the one hand, and acknowledging its legitimacy on 
the other; the former is not really recognition. 
In short, we refuse to recognise the legitimacy 
of Israel because we refuse to recognise the 
legitimacy of occupation and theft of land. For 
us, this principle is clear and definitive.

Are you not surprised at the Israeli and 
international insistence on the question of your 
recognising Israel? Is this not, in some way, a 
sign of weakness, as Israel sounds like it is 
questioning its own existence, and demanding that 
others recognise the legitimacy of this existence?

Without a doubt, the enemy is concerned about the 
future of its entity, particularly in light of 
the latest developments. Its psychology is that 
of a thief and a criminal who ultimately feels 
like an outlaw lacking legitimacy, no matter how 
strong he may become. The demand for recognition 
is certainly a sign of weakness, an expression of 
an inferiority complex, lack of confidence in the 
future of this entity, a feeling that it is 
illegitimate and still rejected by the peoples of 
the region as alien, and that the mere presence 
of a steadfast Palestinian people is a practical 
expression of the rejection of the Zionist entity.

Yet, there is another dimension, which is the 
feeling of superiority. This is the logic by 
which Western nations deal with third world 
countries. The Zionists adopt the same logic 
based on military supremacy, and feel that they 
are the party that has the right to dictate terms 
to the others, including dictating preconditions for any negotiations.

Some Palestinian and Arab parties have, 
unfortunately, responded to this logic. This is 
unacceptable imbalance. In our dialogues with 
foreign delegations, we hear them constantly 
talking about the conditions of the Quartet; some 
of them introduce revised conditions to make it 
easier for us to accept them. We refused all 
conditions on principle, and refused discussing 
them even in the context of seeking revised 
formulas. We reject the principle of conditions, 
for it suggests that there are two levels of 
human beings, and one party can dominate the 
other, one party having the upper hand and the 
other the lower. Our humanity, dignity and 
self-respect state that we are on par with others 
even if they are militarily stronger; hence we 
refuse to be dealt with through preconditions.

Unfortunately, one of the mistakes causing them 
to persist in this approach is that some people 
have accepted these conditions, including the 
issue of recognition. They then made another 
mistake by not exchanging the recognition of 
Israel for the recognition of Palestinian rights, 
but preferred, rather, to be recognised 
themselves. This is a significant flaw added to 
the original one, namely recognition! It is 
preposterous to recognise Israel in return for 
its recognition of the Palestine Liberation 
Organisation or another movement instead of 
recognising the Palestinian people or state or 
rights. This implies that you have swapped public 
interest for personal interests, and have swapped 
the grand national objective for a petty partisan 
one. As we say this, we emphasise our rejection 
of the issue of recognition, regardless of the price.

Therefore, in our conversations with those 
Western delegations [who ask us to recognise 
Israel], we tell them: "Although we are eager to 
communicate with you and open up to the world, we 
are not begging or looking for Western 
recognition of Hamas. This does not concern us. 
Our legitimacy stems from the Palestinian people; 
the ballot boxes; Palestinian democracy; the 
legitimacy of struggle, sacrifice and resistance; 
and our Arab and Islamic depth. We are not 
looking for legitimacy from abroad; what we are 
seeking to achieve and obtain is recognition of 
Palestinian rights and the right of our people to 
freedom, and deliverance from the occupation, and 
the right to self-determination. This will not be 
in exchange for recognition, because recognition 
is ultimately an acknowledgement of the 
legitimacy of occupation, aggression and land theft.

In your opinion, why do the international 
community and the Israelis reject the long-term truce proposed by Hamas?

This rejection by the Zionist entity, the US 
administration, and other international parties is due to several reasons.

The first reason: the logic of power, superiority 
and hegemony of these parties. They believe that 
their superior power allows them to impose what 
they want on us, and to consider us Arabs and 
Palestinians as the defeated party which has no 
choice but to sign the instrument of surrender in 
the same way as Germany and Japan did in the 
aftermath of World War II, and not to provide 
solutions and ideas such as the truce.

The second reason: they see Arab and Palestinian 
parties making more enticing offers. So how would 
they respond to a truce offer when others offer 
to recognise Israel in return for a solution 
based on the borders of 1967, with a willingness 
to negotiate on the details of that solution, 
namely: borders, Jerusalem and the right of return?

The third reason: the experience of the 
Americans, the Zionists and others with other 
parties in the region tempts them to conclude 
that further pressure will drive us into a state 
of desperation as happened with others; they 
tried the policy of pressure and extortion with 
others and it succeeded. This prompts them to 
say: "Let us try the same thing with Hamas, for 
it may submit like the others did." Add to that 
the fact that some Arabs and Palestinians – 
regrettably – advise them: "Surround Hamas, 
financially and politically, and incite against 
them; do not open up to them directly, maintain 
your conditions, and do not hurry. Hamas will ultimately succumb!"

These reasons, and perhaps others, prompt them to 
reject the truce offer. In our conversations with 
Western delegations we tell them: "Yes, the 
positions of others are easier, and ours is more 
difficult; yet our advantage is that, when we 
make an offer or take a position, we strive to 
ensure its applicability on the ground and its 
potential to win the confidence of the 
Palestinian people and the Arab and Islamic 
public, and it is so only when it does not run 
counter to the national constants, rights and 
interests of the people." As to the positions of 
others in the Palestinian arena, they are easy 
but lack the approval of the majority of the 
Palestinian people, its national forces and 
intellectual elites. What is the practical value 
of these positions, and the value of reaching 
agreements and finding solutions with some 
leaderships that were rejected by the majority of 
the people? The Oslo Agreements were imposed in 
the past, and they failed because they were 
unfair and did not meet the aspirations of our 
people, and thus remained alien to the Palestinian and Arab reality.

So we are aware that they will be forced to 
finally deal with the vision of Hamas and the 
vision of forces and leaders committed to 
national constants. We tell them: "If you think 
that you are able to achieve success in the 
region through other schemes, try and you will reach a dead-end."

It might be easy for the major powers to incline 
towards easy solutions with certain leaders and 
rulers, without considering the importance of 
these solutions being convincing and satisfactory 
to the people. These powers overlook the fact 
that reconciliation with the leaders and 
governments alone is temporary and short-lived, 
and does not create stability in the region – no 
matter the extent of pressure and oppression 
exercised against the people. However, the 
success of any enterprise is realised only when 
the people are convinced and believe it to be 
satisfactory and equitable, even if temporarily. 
Some in the West are beginning to realise the 
importance of this perspective and are, 
consequently, developing their positions – albeit 
slowly – in the direction of dealing with Hamas. 
There are still obstacles in the effort to 
translate this limited development into real and 
serious steps. We, in turn, are not in a hurry 
because what matters for us is not our role but, 
rather, our commitment to our people's rights and interests.

Hamas and the Jews

Is the resistance of Hamas directed against the 
Zionists as Jews or as occupiers?

We do not fight the Zionists because they are 
Jews; we fight them because they are 
occupiers.  The reason behind our war with the 
Zionist entity and our resistance to it is the 
occupation, rather than differences in religion. 
Resistance and military confrontation with the 
Israelis was caused by occupation, aggression and 
crimes committed against the Palestinian people, 
and not because of the differences in religion and belief.

We are well aware that Israel invokes religion to 
advance on the battlefield, as well as employing 
historical grudges, distorted texts, legends and 
myths, and religious sentiments in the battle 
against the Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims. Even 
the leaders of secular Zionism had used religion 
since the beginning of the Zionist movement and 
exploited it politically; and the Zionist entity 
was originally based on religion and racism. 
Despite all this, our difference with them in 
religion is not what created a situation of war 
and resistance against them; we fight them because they are occupiers.

For us, religion is a cornerstone to our lives, 
belonging and identity, our culture and our daily 
actions; it is the energy that promotes patience 
and steadfastness, and gives rise to more 
sacrifice and generosity. This is a tremendous 
energy in the face of injustice, aggression and 
the powers seeking to harm our people and our 
nation. But we do not make of religion a force 
for engendering hatred, nor a cause or a pretext 
for harming and assaulting others, or grabbing 
what is not ours, or encroaching on the rights of others.

Hamas and International Relations

Are you satisfied with your achievements in 
international relations? What is the position of 
these relations in the thinking, programmes and priorities of Hamas?

International relations in the political thinking 
of Hamas has several dimensions.

The first dimension: conviction that the 
Palestine battle, in one of its aspects, is the 
battle of humanity against Israeli injustice and 
oppression, and against the racist Zionist scheme 
targeting the world and humanity as a whole and 
threatening the interests of peoples and nations, 
since its evil and dangers are not limited to 
Palestine and the Palestinians and the Arabs and Muslims.

The second dimension: the necessity of promoting 
our just cause and winning more friends who 
support our legitimate right to resist occupation 
and aggression. It has been shown that there is 
still good in the human conscience, and that it 
could be awakened and moved in our favour if we 
present our case well, and strive to reveal the 
truth of the Zionist entity. The case of breaking 
the Gaza blockade, and the success in winning a 
large number of sympathisers with this issue 
through the movement of ships to Gaza is an 
example of the importance of this dimension. We 
recall and emphasise that the confrontation with 
the Zionist entity – through the people and 
resistance, as was the case with the Gaza War, 
south Lebanon and the flotilla, is what exposes 
the ugly face of this entity, and not 
negotiations and meetings with it as these polish 
its image and cover up its reality and crimes.

The third dimension: just as Israel encircles and 
haunts us on the international stage, we too must 
follow it in all international forums, and not 
leave the stage to it. Unfortunately, the 
official Arab and Islamic side has fallen far 
short of this objective, and its true role has 
been absent. However, what mitigated this 
deficiency are the efforts of the Palestinian, 
Arab and Islamic communities who recently moved 
more effectively on the international arena and 
scored significant results and important 
breakthroughs. They helped win friends and 
supporters for the Palestinian cause and Arab and 
Islamic issues, and worked so as to expose the 
ugly and ruthless face of Israel, whose 
aggressive and brutal behaviour has shocked human 
conscience and sentiments as it runs counter to 
the ethical values of Western peoples and the 
peoples of the world. These communities have also 
contributed, through their activities, to the 
pursuit of Israel legally and judicially.

The fourth dimension: we are interested in 
forging a network of relations, strong and 
effective at all levels, international as well as 
Arab and Islamic. We have created in our group a 
special section for international relations 
because we consider it a factor of strength, 
opening up and winning international support for the cause and the movement.

The fifth dimension: the forging of international 
relations starts here, from within the region, 
for here is the plant, and the harvest is there 
in the West, while hard work is required in both. 
This means that the primary basis for achieving a 
breakthrough and success in international 
relations is strength on the ground, and being 
ingrained in it, united around our people and our 
nation, practising resistance and resoluteness. 
[With such a foundation], the world will respect 
us and realise that there will be no peace or 
stability in the region unless they deal with us 
and accord us the consideration we deserve, 
respect our interests, rights and legitimate 
demands, and retreat from their current policies 
of bias towards Israel and disregard for the Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims.

We have scored successes in this field, thanks to 
Allah. Yet the road is long and we have a long 
way ahead of us. We are relatively satisfied with 
the achievements, considering the scale of 
obstacles facing us and being thrown in our path. 
It should not be forgotten that the level of the 
relations and the yield achieved does not depend 
on us alone, but also on the other side. This is 
how political relations, and human ones too, take place.

If we are to measure the yield from the efforts 
we exerted, compared to the degree of Zionist 
penetration and influence in the world, the gap 
will seem wide. Western policy, which views 
Israel as its natural extension and chooses to 
support it without limit, the weakness of Arab 
performance and diplomacy, and the incitement by 
Palestinian and Arab parties against the movement 
have, no doubt, impacted on the extent of success and achievement.

We currently have a host of official relations on 
the international level, such as the relations 
with Russia, some Latin American countries and 
Asian and African nations. We also have other 
official international relations, some are covert 
in view of the conditions of the other party, and 
indirect relations through former officials who 
communicate with us with the knowledge of the 
officials in their countries, such as is the case 
with the United States of America and others. All 
of this is an important development, and it will 
not be long, God willing, until this develops 
into open and consistent official relations with the movement.

We are not talking here about international 
relations from the viewpoint of eagerness, 
desperation, urgency and a search for partisan 
glory; rather, we are forging these relations and 
following up on them with poise and self-respect, 
with the purpose of reaping gains for the 
Palestinian cause rather than for narrow partisan ones.

Hamas, Alignments and Axes

In recent years, the Arab arena has witnessed a 
number of different axes and alignments. Hamas 
has been classified by some as being within the 
axis of rejection. How do you view this situation 
dominating the Arab political scene; where do you 
see yourself with regard to it; and do you 
believe it to be in the interests of the nation?

I will answer this from three angles.

First angle: There is a reprehensible gathering, 
and another gathering which is praiseworthy. The 
reprehensible gathering is an assembly, for 
example, on the basis of race or narrow national 
ideas in opposition to other people; it invokes 
factors of categorisation and internal alignment 
on the level of the country or the nation.

But if people rally to do good, to support the 
Palestinian people, resist the Zionist 
enemy,  challenge normalisation, resist the 
efforts of enemies to infiltrate the nation, 
confront American hegemony and the occupation of 
Iraq and Afghanistan, and stand in the way of 
attempts to rob the nation's wealth, all this 
constitutes a praiseworthy gathering, and cannot be equated with the other one.

Therefore, when we say that we are for 
resistance, adherence to Palestinian rights, the 
right of return, and have a bias for Palestine, 
Jerusalem and the nation's sacred places, and 
that we reject the Zionist occupation and refuse 
to succumb to the dictates of the enemy, then 
this is something we are proud of and do not 
hide. This is the duty of the nation. God 
Almighty says: "Help one another in righteousness 
and piety and do not cooperate in sin and 
aggression." Hence, coming together for such 
cooperation is desired, and we should not fear of 
being accused of bias towards one of the axes in such a case.

Second angle: we do not consider our commitment 
to resistance and refusal to submit to the 
Quartet's and the enemy's conditions and the 
American-Israeli vision of the settlement and 
relinquishment of Palestinian rights to be 
undermining of Palestinian or Arab parties, but, 
rather, [we consider it to be an undermining] of 
the Zionist enemy. As for those whose agenda 
intersects with the enemy's, or who succumb to 
them and go along with them under pressure, and 
participate in besieging us or inciting against 
us, those are the ones who are practically 
placing themselves against the mission of the resistance.

However, we do not antagonise anyone from our 
people and our nation, and we have not formed a 
Palestinian, Arab or Muslim axis against another 
Palestinian Arab one. We continue to reach out to 
all, and are keen to communicate with everyone 
and establish relationships with everyone. If 
there is a break or chill in relationships with 
someone, it is this someone who chooses this 
break or chill and not us. Everyone is aware of 
this fact, because we reach out to all Arabs – 
some some of them respond positively, and others do not.

Third angle: if it was acceptable to disagree in 
our politics and analysis of the political 
situation when the deal was being put to the test 
and when people were paying heavily for the 
resistance, is it acceptable to disagree today 
after the deal has been proven a failure with an 
obstructive political horizon and very heavy 
costs and consequences, much heavier than the costs of the resistance?

We call on all the nation's states and forces to 
rally together with us in our natural environment 
as a nation; when the nation undergoes 
occupation, our natural environment and our 
priority should be the resistance. When we 
undergo aggression it is natural to unite in the 
face of aggression; and when the nation enters a 
stage of independence, then our natural 
environment and priority would be reconstruction, 
economic advancement and cultural renaissance in all its dimensions.

Today, the nation should respond to the current 
challenges and place itself in its natural 
environment. We hope that everyone would be in 
this environment, particularly considering that 
they have tried and failed and found out that 
betting on the Americans and others is futile. 
The Americans have been tried in Palestine, Iraq 
and Afghanistan, and were tried before that by 
the Shah in Iran, and the results were dismal. We 
say to the Arab and Islamic regimes: "The 
shortest way to maintain your regimes and even 
your stay in power is by siding with your nation and the  people's choices."

The official Arab leaderships allowed themselves 
the opportunity to be engaged in many experiments 
and attempts on the path of compromise and 
negotiations. The most recent of these was the 
Arab Peace Initiative, through which they sent a 
clear and generous message that the Arab states 
were willing to provide benefits in return for 
steps taken by the other party. Eight years have 
elapsed since this proposal was mooted, without 
any respect being given either from the Zionist 
enemy, from the US administration, or from the 
international community – except for a few complimentary phrases.

During our meetings with many Arab officials and 
leaders, we continue to say to them: "After this 
experience, and after reaching a dead-end, is it 
not worthwhile to stop and look for alternative 
options?" We used also to say to them that 
withdrawing from the settlement plan and the Arab 
initiative did not mean entering into official 
wars, which is not possible today with Israel. 
Another option is to support the resistance, and 
thus the nation can rally behind a realistic and 
pragmatic option which has proven able to 
withstand, and able to score some achievements, 
an option that is bound significantly to develop 
in terms of its weight and influence in the 
Arab-Israeli conflict, especially if it finds support.

If official wars with the enemy are impossible 
today because of the imbalance of power, it is 
difficult for the nation – as things currently 
stand – to engage on a programme of a regular 
Arab war against Israel. So let the realistic and 
practical option be resistance, which we have 
tried and which has succeeded in driving the 
occupiers out of southern Lebanon and Gaza, and 
whose effects are being seen clearly in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Hence, we believe that calling on the nation and 
its forces to line up in their natural 
environment is not an abstract or emotional 
theory, but is, rather, based on a practical 
option that has been successfully tried. The 
nation is capable of using this option on the 
official and popular levels, particularly since 
the negotiation option has failed and in light of 
the contempt displayed by the enemy leaders 
towards us, as well as successive US 
administrations' betrayal of the Arabs and the 
Muslims, and even of their friends and associates.

Hamas and Christians

What is the Hamas view of Christians and their role in the Palestinian cause?

Islam dealt with the Christians in a special 
manner compared to other religions, as in the 
[Qur'anic] verse: "You will surely find that, of 
all people, the most hostile to those who believe 
are the Jews and those who are polytheists; and 
you will certainly find that, of all people, the 
nearest in friendship to those who believe are 
those who say: ‘We are Christians.'" The 
historical relations between Christians and 
Muslims have had a special status in history 
since the conquest of Palestine, when the second 
caliph, Umar ibn al-Khattab, received the keys to 
the city of Jerusalem after the Christians 
insisted that Jews do not live with them in 
Jerusalem. A special relationship between Muslims 
and Christians was formed thereafter.

What is more, Palestine enjoys an exceptional 
status, being the land of prophets and 
messengers, the birthplace of Jesus (peace be 
upon him), and the place of Muhammad's (peace be 
upon him) night journey. Palestine is one of the 
foremost examples of coexistence and tolerance 
among all faiths. This is a legacy carried by the 
Palestinians – whether Muslims or Christians – 
and has resulted in the evolution of the historical relations we see.
In the past decades, since the 1930s when the 
late Haj Amin al-Husseini sponsored Christian and 
Muslim conferences, Muslims and Christians have 
had mutual concerns, and have cooperated to face 
mutual challenges. The Palestinians – Muslims and 
Christians – were in the same boat against the 
Zionist occupation. This was reflected in the 
role of our Christian brothers in the 
contemporary Palestinian Revolution when all factions united as one people.

Since the formation of Hamas, the relationship 
with the Christian brothers has been normal and 
good, and there were no problems between us and 
them. This, despite the fact that some 
Palestinian forces tried, unfortunately, to scare 
Christians with the idea of the new Hamas, 
recalling that it is an Islamic movement in order 
that they might promote the notion of an 
allegedly inevitable contradiction between Hamas 
and the Christians. However, these attempts at 
intimidation failed, and Christians found the 
movement to be close to them, dealing with 
everyone with tolerance, openness and respect. 
During the second Palestinian intifada, the 
movement took into consideration the 
specificities of Christian festivals, and was 
careful that strike days did not coincide 
with  Christian festivals and events, just as it 
was also keen to protect Christian property. Not 
only this, but Hamas was also keen on an active 
Christian role in Palestinian political life. The 
movement's leaders, at home and abroad, held 
several meetings with Christian national religious figures.

For these reasons, Hamas won broad support among 
Christians before and after the 2006 legislative 
elections; there were many Christians who voted 
for Hamas, and we supported them in the West Bank 
and Gaza, too. For example, Dr Husam al-Tawil – a 
Christian – won [a seat] in Gaza owing to votes 
from Hamas and its supporters. The number of 
Muslims who voted for him was several times the 
number of Christian votes – given that the number 
of Christians in the Gaza Strip is small.

I recall here, because of its symbolic 
significance, an incident that happened in an 
Arab airport. A certain person approached me, 
introduced himself as a Palestinian, said that he 
was from Beit Jala, was a Christian, and that he 
had elected Hamas and still supported it. He was 
not obliged to say this, and nobody pushed him to 
say them; he did that on his own, and expressed 
his feelings. This is a model of the good 
relationship between the movement and the 
Christian brothers from among our people.

We are dealing with the Christian brothers as a 
fundamental component of the people and homeland, 
and an active part in the struggle against the 
occupation, without the consideration that this 
is a Muslim and that a Christian. We are partners 
in the country, and everyone has rights and 
duties. When we recall religious figures 
prominent in the struggle of the people of 
Palestine, we recall, among Muslims, Sheikh Raed 
Salah, Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, and [among 
Christians] Bishop Atallah Hanna, Bishop Capucci, 
and so on; we all share in defending Jerusalem and the cause.

Hamas may have surprised some liberals and 
secularists in the Palestinian arena who thought, 
or even promoted the idea, that, by virtue of its 
Islamic identity, it will isolate itself and that 
a tenuous relationship may develop between us and 
Christian Palestinians. They were surprised when 
their expectations did not materialise. This is 
because religion is not about isolation and 
detachment; on the contrary, faith motivates a 
person to be tolerant, to be respectful of 
others, and to recognise their rights.

Hamas and Women

Islamic movements are commonly accused of 
contempt towards women and marginalisation of 
their role in political and social life. How do 
you view these charges in light of your experience in Hamas?

Unfortunately, there is a gap between the true 
concepts of Islam regarding woman, and their more 
recent practical application. There is an 
erroneous application and behaviour that results 
from backwardness and does not come from the texts and spirit of the Shari'ah.

Even at the present time, however, and despite 
the good level of progress in the Arab and 
Islamic countries, there are still errors in the 
application [of the Shari'ah], arising from many 
customs, traditions and concepts which emanate 
from certain situations and specific 
environments, and do not arise from the provisions of Islam itself.

Women in the texts of the Qur'an and hadith 
(prophetic traditions) are charged with duties 
just as men are, and when the Qur'an speaks about 
Shari'ah and its provisions, it mentions men and 
women together because everyone is charged with 
and has individual responsibilities. This is 
evident in God Almighty's saying: "The Believers, 
men and women, are protectors one of another: 
they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is 
evil," and "Never will I suffer to be lost the 
work of any of you, be you male or female. You 
are members, one of another." And, in the 
Prophet's words: "Women are the twin halves of 
men." There are also other such Qur'anic verses and hadith.

Woman in the Islamic concept of thought, 
jurisprudence, mandate and role is – indeed – one 
half of society, and she has been given her 
prestige and respect. However, there is a huge 
difference between respect and appreciation for 
woman and her rightful role [on the one hand], 
and abusing her and presenting her as a cheap 
commodity as is done in the Western civilisation 
[on the other]. There is a difference between 
preserving woman's chastity and modesty and 
safeguarding her rights while according her a 
suitable role, and dealing with her as a 
commodity of lust and pleasure. These ethical 
regulations are not just Islamic; they are innate and human.

We in Hamas are keen, as regards women, to invoke 
Islamic concepts and their unadulterated 
application which are not marred by the ages of 
backwardness or the weight of social norms and 
traditions that stem from the environment and not 
the religious text, especially since the 
environment of Palestine is not a closed 
environment but a historically civilised one 
enjoying plurality and openness to all religions, civilisations and cultures.

With this pure and original conception, and as a 
part and an extension of the Palestinian 
experience and its legacy, Hamas assigned a 
distinctive role for women in its operations. The 
role of women was highlighted during the 
intifada, in the resistance and all forms of 
struggle efforts, not only as mother, wife and 
sister to the strugglers, but also as one 
herself, carrying out commando and martyrdom 
operations, supporting her brothers and martyrs, 
and providing logistical assistance. There are 
also sisters who drove fighters to the operation 
site, as happened in the Sbarro operation and 
others. In the Zionist jails, there are tens of 
captive sisters enduring the suffering in prison 
and paying the toll of jihad side-by-side with their brothers.

The role of women is significant in the 
Palestinian arena and in the movement, whether at 
work, jihad and struggle, in the field of social 
charity and educational work, or political and 
syndicalist work. The Palestinian woman is 
educated and cultured, and her activity in 
schools and universities is no less than that of a man.

Proceeding from our Islamic terms of reference, 
Arab cultural identity and the distinctive 
Palestinian environment, women in Hamas occupy an 
advanced position. In political action, and 
before the Legislative Council was created, women 
had significant activities in the Palestinian 
student movement and in various unions; and when 
Hamas took part in the legislative elections, 
women enjoyed a strong presence and a large share 
on our lists, as well as in the government formed by Hamas.

It is true that some Islamic movements and groups 
are criticised for neglecting the role of women, 
but we find, on the other hand, cases of 
depravity and misdemeanour infringing on ethical 
concerns with some secular parties and forces. 
Hamas was keen to develop a moderate vision which 
would grant woman her authentic role, without 
breaking from Islamic principles, values and 
ethics, and at the same time being free from 
isolation, seclusion and marginalisation. I 
believe we have succeeded in that, thanks to God. 
Women also have an important role on the 
organisational level in Hamas, which seeks better 
to develop their role and participation within 
the organisational structure of the movement.

Hamas' Model of Resistance

What contribution did Hamas make vis-à-vis jihad 
and the struggle? What distinguishes its model of resistance?

It must first be emphasised that Hamas as a 
movement of resistance against the Zionist 
occupation is a natural and authentic part of the 
experience of the Palestinian struggle, an 
extension of it, and one of its circles that is 
continuing from a hundred years ago, starting 
with the first revolution and the first martyr 
and all its icons and leaderships and their great 
struggle – despite adverse circumstances in their 
time. These were people such as ‘Izzeddine 
al-Qassam, Haj Amin al-Husseini, Farhan 
al-Sa'adi, Abdul Qader al-Husseini, among others, 
up to the contemporary Palestinian revolution 
with all its factions, forces, leaderships and 
icons of struggle. The march of the Palestinian 
struggle continues today, thanks to God, and will 
continue until the goals of liberation and return 
and deliverance from Zionist occupation are realised.

This means that Hamas, as a resistance movement, 
is not separate from nor does it exist without 
roots in a desert, but is rather a part of a 
whole. It is part of our people's history of 
struggle and its jihadi march – full of 
sacrifices, challenges, creativity, patience, 
endurance, and determination to continue the 
march and overcome all obstacles, challenges and 
adverse and unfavourable circumstances until the 
ultimate goal is achieved, God willing.

This sense of belonging and extension has infused 
Hamas – as it has infused other forces of the 
Palestinian resistance – with the legacy of that 
history and its originality, spirit and 
distinctive identity, and made us grasp that long 
and rich experience and benefit from its various 
stages with all its successes and achievements, 
and some failure as well. For us and our people, 
these experiences are a rich and valuable 
reservoir. The choice of the name of Martyr 
‘Izzeddine al-Qassam for our military wing and 
its brigades is but an expression of this 
affiliation and a manifestation of it.

Our asserting this fact here is necessary and 
very important in order for each of us to know 
our roots and factors of real power on the one 
hand, and also to know our real size and specific 
position in this long march. Just as belonging to 
such history and course gives people or movements 
the strength and self-confidence that are 
necessary, especially in difficult moments, it 
also gives them the necessary humility and 
respect for the roles of others. We and the 
others are part of this blessed course; we were 
not the first and will not necessarily be the last.

We and the others build on the experience of our 
forerunners and benefit from them, and then we 
create our own experiences with their positives 
and negatives, and interact with our associates 
in the march. All this will be a legacy for 
future generations who will carry the flag and 
continue the struggle until victory and 
liberation are achieved, God willing. This is the 
goal which everyone will have contributed to – 
even if they do not witness the final outcome.

We have striven to form our model of resistance, 
which we established as a contribution to this 
great struggle, and we were keen to offer – 
through it – a notable addition to the march of 
the Palestinian struggle. We have ingrained in it 
a host of important and necessary concepts, 
policies and regulations, and given it much 
spirit, creativity, perseverance and determination.

Among the most prominent of these visions, concepts and policies are:

First: Resistance is our means to achieve the 
strategic objective, namely, the liberation and 
restoration of our rights and ending the Zionist 
occupation of our land and our holy sites.

That is to say, resistance is a strategy of 
liberation, and is the main axis in our work as a 
resistance movement rather than being a mere 
choice we have made. It is the backbone of our 
project. Despite the importance of our programme 
and the other work that is done in the course of 
implementing the movement's programme – such as 
the political, popular, social, charitable, and 
economic work, the true value and impact of these 
activities in serving the objectives rest on 
their position within the context of resistance 
as a key programme, and within a working system 
to which the resistance is the backbone. This is 
because we are a resistance movement facing a 
colonialist military occupation opposed to our 
existence, and so it is natural that armed and 
all-inclusive resistance be the basis and the 
decisive factor in this confrontation.

Second: Resistance for us is a means, and not an 
end, in the service of the aim and the 
objectives; it is not resistance for the sake of 
resistance. The elaboration of the resistance 
concept to make it an end in itself entails many 
errors in understanding, vision, and in the 
practical attitude and behaviour, as well as a 
flaw in decision-making and interest assessment.

Yes, the resistance is very important, and a 
primary axis to our project, but it is not the 
objective. It is the means and the way for 
achieving this goal, and a strategic tool for liberation.

Third: "Hamas" is not a military group, but an 
all-embracing national liberation movement, with 
resistance as its main axis, its strategic means 
to liberation and the realisation of the 
Palestinian national project. At the same time, 
the movement works in all fields and areas, and 
has its own aims and political vision. It is a 
grassroots movement conscious of the concerns of 
its people at home and abroad, defending their 
interests, and seeking to serve them as much as 
possible in all aspects of daily life.

Fourth: We have limited our resistance to be in 
opposition to the Israeli occupation alone. Our 
resistance is against the enemy occupying our 
land and encroaching on our people and holy 
sites, and not against anyone else. We did not 
use resistance even against those who supported 
our enemies and provided them with all the means 
of force and the deadly weapons which kill our 
people. We also adopted the policy of confining 
the resistance to Palestine and not outside it – 
not out of powerlessness, but on account of an 
accurate estimation of interest, and a balancing of various considerations.

Fifth: We clearly adopt the policy of using 
weapons and force only in the face of the 
occupier and the external enemy attacking us; 
this is legitimate resistance. This means not 
using weapons and force either in domestic 
affairs, or in addressing political and 
intellectual disputes. Addressing disputes within 
national ranks must be through dialogue, 
consensus and arbitration by people, through democracy and the ballot box.

The tragic events in the Gaza Strip a few years 
ago are not a departure from this policy, as this 
is an entirely different case. There was a 
Palestinian party which rejected the election 
result and sought to overturn it, that is, to 
overturn Palestinian legitimacy, and, 
unfortunately, they collaborated with the Zionist 
enemy and the Americans and used weapons against 
us. It is our natural right to defend ourselves 
when forced to do so, particularly considering 
that we did this from the position of a 
legitimate government formed after fair 
democratic elections which were approved by the elected Legislative Council.

On the other hand, when we were out of power from 
1994 until 2006, and although the Authority had 
arrested thousands of our members and severely 
tortured them, and pursued the resistance, its 
weapons and men, and coordinated (and continues 
to coordinate) security with the Zionist enemy, 
we did not respond at that time by using weapons 
or force against it and restricted our resistance 
to the Zionist enemy alone. We adopted a 
hands-off policy and restricted our opposition to 
the Authority, and the management of our dispute 
with it, to peaceful political and popular means.

Six: We have adopted a policy of not engaging in 
turf battles in the region, contrary to what 
others had done in the earlier stages. We never 
used force and weapons against any Arab state or 
party even if they harmed and besieged us, or 
arrested and tortured our brethren, or stabbed 
the resistance in the back, or incited against 
us. The Arabs are our brothers and family and 
they constitute our strategic depth; so we cannot 
wrong them even if they did so to us. We have 
committed ourselves to this policy over the past 
years, and will remain committed to it, God 
willing, because our battle is exclusively against the Zionist enemy.

Seven: In building the resistance, we took pains 
to focus on building the resistance activist 
religiously, educationally, psychologically, and 
intellectually, ensuring a high degree of 
organisational and behavioural discipline, 
commitment to religious and ethical rules of 
resistance, and developing the capacity for 
endurance and steadfastness in extreme 
circumstances, as well as building awareness and 
clarity of vision in the fighters, sincerity of 
purpose and intention, and the blending of the 
religious and national dimensions to develop a 
strong incentive in the course of jihad and the 
resistance. The fighter struggles against the 
occupying enemy in defence of his homeland and 
holy sites, his people and nation, and his family and honour.

As for the movement's contribution to jihad and 
the struggle, it must be noted as a key and 
substantial point that Hamas succeeded, thanks to 
God, in building and strengthening its resistance 
even though it emerged at a difficult time, at a 
point when many factors and objective conditions 
for the success of revolutions and liberation 
movements were vanishing. The most notable of 
these is the end of the Cold War, the absence of 
an international ally, and the emergence of an 
international system based on the unipolarity of 
the United States of America, the foremost ally 
of the Zionist entity, followed by the entry of 
the world into the "war on terror", and the 
pinning of the charge on Islam and resistance movements.

Added to that, although this factor often has 
various outcomes and implications, is the fact 
that the resistance in Palestine has been 
undergoing a suffocating siege for some time, and 
is deprived of a friendly neighbourhood that can 
provide strategic and logistical depth, and of a 
secure rear base allowing for freedom of movement 
and manoeuvre. All this led to extreme difficulty 
in the continuance of the armed struggle as it 
was before, especially working from the outside 
to the inside, and the difficulty of providing 
logistical support to the resistance at home and abroad.

In light of this great challenge, and in order to 
continue the project of resistance and to 
overcome obstacles and blockades, the movement 
focused on a strategy of broadening the 
participation of the Palestinian people at home, 
and their involvement in the resistance and 
confrontation [with the enemy]; starting from 
stone-throwing, introducing creativity to the 
first and second intifada in which everyone took 
part (thus reflecting a new phase of the 
Palestinian struggle), and introducing new and 
innovative forms of resistance and open confrontation with the occupation.

Another strategy of self-building at home was 
adopted as well in terms of recruitment, 
training, arming and manoeuvre, while making 
every effort to collect financial and technical 
support and arms from abroad as much as possible. 
When the blockade intensified further, the idea 
of manufacturing weapons, inside, from available raw materials emerged.

So we accepted the task with these enormous 
challenges, siege and persecution, and faced it 
bravely and resolutely through innovation, 
creativity, diversification, self-reliance and 
counting on God in all circumstances, and 
continuously seeking friends and allies and 
available support. We thought to ourselves that, 
even if we remained by ourselves in the field, 
and lost all support from others, we would 
persist in our resistance and we would not give 
it up or end it, and will keep urging our nation 
to support us and take part in this honourable 
duty, quoting Allah Almighty's statement to the 
Prophet (peace be upon him): "You shall fight in 
God's cause; you are responsible only for your 
own self; and inspire the believers to do the 
same. It may be that God will neutralise the 
power of those who disbelieve. God is much more 
powerful, and stronger in the ability to deter" 
(Surah 4, Verse 84). We used to say so despite 
our conviction and confidence in our nation's 
faithfulness and its commitment not to abandon 
its responsibilities towards the central issue of 
Palestine and confronting the Zionist enterprise. 
Our nation clearly realises the essence of the 
Zionist enterprise and the danger it poses to the whole region and the world.

Another addition by Hamas, in terms of jihad and 
the struggle, is innovation in resistance and its 
methods, tactics and tools, such as expanding 
martyrdom operations and developing them to 
become a lethal weapon against the enemy, and 
striking deep at its security. Another example is 
the manufacture of weapons locally and 
transforming this into an actual and real project 
that could be relied on, even if temporarily, 
given the difficulty of obtaining weapons from 
outside. The most prominent example in this 
regard is the manufacture of weapons which were 
initially dealt with lightly on account of their 
simplicity and their limited range and 
effectiveness, but which have evolved to advanced 
stages and have become a real nuisance to the 
enemy, with growing impact on its security.

Another important addition is the development of 
the resistance's capacities in the face of 
Israeli incursions, and the success in defending 
Palestinian areas and towns following the 
distinctive model of Gaza and the heroic attempt 
in the Jenin camp, where all conventional methods 
were used and were complemented by the method of 
tunnels and their usage on a large scale to 
defend and challenge. This went even so far as to 
withstand a real war wherein the enemy was routed 
and its objectives thwarted – like in the Zionist 
enemy's war on the Gaza Strip in 2008-2009, which 
actually was the largest war waged by Israel on Palestinian land.

A further addition is the improvement of 
resistance to being able to achieve and liberate 
part of the land. The Palestinian resistance, 
with its military wings and qualitative martyrdom 
operations, and with the significant impact of 
our people's second uprising, was able to force 
the Zionist enemy to leave the Gaza Strip and 
dismantle its settlements for the first time in 
the history of the Zionist entity.

This clearly means that the Palestinian 
revolution, through the development of capacity, 
momentum and tools, as well as innovation and 
diversification of methods and tactics, and 
through determination and patience, has become a 
real and reliable option whose ability to 
withstand, defend and achieve, even if 
step-by-step, can be trusted by the people 
despite the enormous difference in and the 
continuing imbalance of power compared to the enemy.

The resistance was also concerned with an 
important aspect in its experience as a 
resistance movement, namely the alternation 
between escalation and abatement in line with the 
conditions and circumstances of our people, 
serving the public interest, and sound political 
judgement. The calm could be self-chosen or 
undeclared as was necessary, and as part of the 
resistance's decision-making, or it could be 
announced publicly by agreement of the resistance 
forces, in return for specific demands such as 
discontinuation of Zionist aggression, lifting the siege, and so on.

We, along with other resistance factions, 
exercised this with all consciousness and courage 
and took responsibility for our people and their 
interests. But, in all cases, we exercised this 
on the basis of clinging to resistance and 
developing it further as our strategic option for 
liberation. In the battlefield and on the path of 
resistance and liberation, the movement offered – 
as did others from our people – a prominent 
galaxy of martyrs from its finest leaders, icons 
and cadres, led by Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, founder 
of the movement; Abdul Aziz al-Rantisi; Jamal 
Mansour; Jamal Salim; Ibrahim al-Makadmeh; 
Isma'il Abu Shanab; Salah Darwazeh; Yousef 
Sarakji; Saed Siam; Nizar Rayyan; and thousands of other noble martyrs.

The movement also offered illustrious figures in 
the history of Palestinian military activity, 
such as Imad Akel; Yahya Ayyash; Salah Shehadeh; 
Mahmoud Abu Hannoud; and dozens of other martyrs 
who cannot all be named here, though their names 
will remain in the Palestinian memory and history of struggle.

Another aspect, and a very important addition, is 
the introduction of the Islamic religious 
dimension to the battle alongside the national 
one, with all the significance of Islam in the 
life of the people and the nation, and the 
spirit, strength and vigour it endows the 
strugglers with, as well as enhancing motivation 
for resistance, and the ability further to 
endure, persevere and withstand, not to mention 
Islam's ability to mobilise the masses and stir 
their feelings in the face of the occupiers.

Furthermore, this essential dimension has 
increased the rallying of the Arab and Islamic 
nation's masses and their support for the 
Palestinian people and their resistance, 
especially during major events such as the war 
and blockade on Gaza, and all matters relating to 
Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque. Islamic sentiments 
are among the most important links between the 
masses of the nation and their elites and 
Palestine. Thus, the forceful entry of Hamas – 
with its clear Islamic identity – onto the 
battlefield was a decisive factor in raising the 
broad Arab and Islamic momentum, and invoking it 
for the cause and the Palestinian resistance.

How do you see the issue of laxity in shedding blood?

There are strict established conditions regarding 
blood and the lives of the people, stressed by 
the Qur'an and the Sunnah. The Prophet (peace be 
upon him) never stressed anything like he 
stressed this issue. He repeatedly emphasised it, 
particularly in his Farewell Sermon, and so it 
became central in the charter of the nation. 
There are also codes of ethics and national 
customs that people subscribe to so as to 
establish internal peace in their societies, and 
everyone should abide by these rules and not violate them.

We in the movement are keen to do this carefully 
through instilling these constraints and legal, 
ethical and national rules, sensitising the 
members of the movement, educating them, 
compelling them to abide by these rules in their 
behaviour, and practising accountability for any infringements or violations.

Those who need emphasis on these issues are no 
doubt those in the military domain and bearers of 
weapons, so that the weapons are used only in 
their natural domain against the occupying enemy. 
For those who carry weapons might be tempted by 
their feeling of self-power glibly to use their 
weapons needlessly. The more intense the 
environment of domestic tension in a society 
becomes, the more likely will be indulgence and excess in the use of arms.

It should be noted here that the severity of the 
security experience with the Palestinian 
Authority in the 1990s, the poor performance of 
its security apparatus, corruption, harassment of 
people –  especially the resistance movements, 
primarily Hamas, and the torture and insulting of 
its leaders, all created feelings of indignation 
and severe pain, and wounded souls that will 
never heal as a result of that harsh experience. 
This rendered the domestic environment in the 
Palestinian community unsound and unhealthy, 
tense and irascible, and increased narrow 
partisanship and partiality to the self and the 
faction at the expense of the overall national 
interest. These are defects we must all work to 
address; we must work together and take 
responsibility to get rid of them, because that 
would be in the interest of the country, the 
cause and all of us, and because the prolonging 
of such defects and phenomena is detrimental to 
all, and harmful to the cause and the national interest.

The possession of arms, the sense of power, and 
large forces often cast on their owners vanity 
and self-admiration, lure them into laxity in 
their use of weapons, and may cause them to make 
mistakes and abuse the rights of others. By 
nature, man exceeds proper bounds when he becomes 
rich or strong, as God Almighty says: "But man 
transgresses all bounds, in that he looks upon 
himself as self-sufficient" (Surah 96, Verses 
6-7). Preventing such transgression requires 
discipline and control through religious, moral 
and patriotic commitment, and through the 
enactment of constraints, rules and penalties, 
and by being held answerable for abuses and irregularities.

We in the movement exercise this approach with 
its two parts: the religious, moral and patriotic 
deterrent; and checks and balances, 
accountability and penalty in the case of 
violation. These are issues related to religion, 
national interest and people's rights. We are 
also keen on the integrity of intentions and 
purity of motives of the fighters, so that jihad, 
effort and behaviour are always purely for the 
sake of God, and for the homeland and its 
interest, away from the passion for revenge or 
personal motives. Despite all this, mistakes 
still occur; this is part of human nature.

Abuses and mistakes occur in the experiences of 
all nations and peoples, as with the armies of 
the world and the ugliness we see practised 
against the vulnerable and occupied peoples in 
Iraq and Afghanistan. However, as an Arab and 
Muslim nation, and by virtue of our religion's 
principles, our morals and cultural heritage, we 
need always to commit to the highest standards of 
ethical and behavioural discipline, and firmness 
towards errors and abuses, for our morals are not 
to be practised only among ourselves, but are, 
rather, universal and human and should be 
practised with everyone, regardless their religion or race.

Even at the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be 
upon him), there were excesses and errors, but 
dealing with them was firm and fast. The Holy 
Qur'an addressed one of these cases in the verse: 
"O you who believe! When you go abroad in the 
cause of Allah, investigate carefully, and say 
not to anyone who offers you a salutation: ‘You 
are not a believer!' Coveting the perishable 
goods of this life: with Allah are profits and 
spoils abundant. You too were once in the same 
condition, till God conferred on you His favours. 
Therefore carefully investigate. For God is well 
aware of all that you do" (Surah 4, Verse 94).

The Prophet (peace be upon him) was firm in 
addressing these violations, few as they were, 
and the prophetic traditions in this regard are 
well-known, as partiality towards principles, 
values and morals is the basis of religion and the foundation of the nation.

 From here, in compliance with Islamic rules and 
ethics, following the example of the Holy Qur'an 
and the Sunnah – because we consider commitment 
to them a religious obligation and a source of 
goodness and bliss, and in fulfilment of our 
people's and nation's national interest, our 
policy in the movement is based on the 
non-endorsement of errors and violations, and not 
legitimising them no matter where they come from. 
We, rather, consider them to be at variance with 
the approach of the movement, its thinking and 
commitment, and we penalise the offenders and abusers firmly.

Future of the Region

What is your vision of the region's future in the next five years?

The region today is in the throes of labour, and 
the next five years are likely to witness a 
continuation and expansion of this labour. We 
hope it will ultimately result in positive 
changes and a promising fruit, God willing, even 
if difficult. We have confidence and hope that 
the future in the coming years will be to the 
benefit of the nation and the Palestinian 
resistance and cause. No doubt the nation is 
today going through a stage of advancement, but 
it is – unavoidably – a difficult one that could 
be accompanied by a lot of pain, and so it 
requires more patience and determination, and the 
doubling of efforts on the one hand, and the 
escalation of resistance and confrontation with 
the occupying enemy on the other.

Some believe this reading of yours to be 
optimistic and unfounded. On what basis do you construct your expectations?

Our reading is not fanciful, and is certainly not 
defeatist. Our reading is realistic and based on 
numerous facts, proofs and indicators. One of 
these is that the resistance endeavour in the 
region has evolved significantly, and has proven 
its presence and effectiveness. Not only this, 
but the resistance endeavour has endured and 
scored important successes, even though it is 
working under unfavourable conditions and is 
facing major challenges, the most important of 
which is the regional and international imbalance 
of power, and the state of weakness and division 
in the Arab and Islamic countries.

Those who view the reality of the resistance in 
Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan will 
realise that resistance has become the only real 
option on which the peoples of the region can 
depend to confront the forces of hegemony and for 
resisting occupation, defending the land and 
interests and safeguarding their independence, 
and to repel aggression from any nation in the 
world, even if it is as powerful and mighty as the United States of America.

Resistance in the region has not only held out 
and succeeded in accomplishing strides in 
liberation – as in Gaza and south Lebanon – and 
held out in the face of large wars, but it also 
entangled the invading forces who seek directly 
to control the region in such huge trouble and 
dilemmas that they are now forced to reconsider 
their calculations. The people and the resistance 
of the region have – thank God – forced these 
major powers and nations to accord some 
consideration to this nation, after being tempted 
by the Arab governments' weak policies into more 
greed and underestimation and disregard for us 
when formulating their foreign policy and important decisions for the region.

The Zionist war on Gaza and the Freedom Flotilla 
incident have exposed something important in the 
course of the conflict, which is that the nation 
still sees Palestine as its first cause, and that 
the nation's people, however frustrated, are 
still able to recover and mobilise significantly 
in record time, facing real issues and serious 
confrontations with the enemy. This inherent 
vitality in the nation, reflected in some of the 
junctures and hot spots, was one of the factors 
and causes – according to our information – which 
prompted Western countries to put pressure on 
Israel to accelerate the cessation of the recent 
war in Gaza, fearing the repercussions of 
sweeping Arab and Islamic anger and its effects 
vis-à-vis the current political reality in the 
region and Western interests therein.

There have also been important positive 
transformations in recent years in the positions 
of a number of Arab and Islamic countries which, 
together with the resistance forces, created a 
situation of increasing power and independence, 
bias for the resistance endeavour and the 
interests of the nation, and rejection of 
external conditions and pressures. There are also 
rejectionist countries allied to the resistance, 
and they have made remarkable progress in terms 
of their role in the region, along with other 
Arab states which developed their position and 
honestly and courageously expressed their support 
for the Palestinian resistance, the choice of the 
Palestinian people and the democratic choice 
demonstrated by the 2006 elections.

We recently saw the emergence of the Turkish 
regional role, on a positive course towards the 
independence of political decision-making and 
economic advancement, promotion of the democratic 
experience, openness to the Arab and Islamic 
nation, remarkable and effective engagement on 
the question of Palestine and other regional 
issues, and the adoption of strong and courageous 
positions, all of which indicate a transformation 
in the region and across the nation, 
strengthening the trend towards advancement and change for the better.

There is no doubt that there is a clear 
recognition by all, even those who stubbornly 
deny it, that the strategy of settlement and 
negotiations has failed miserably and has reached 
an impasse, after nearly 20 years of its adoption 
as the sole option for the overall Arab official 
policy based on so-called "moderation". [There is 
also a recognition] that all successive US 
administrations, on which the Arab states counted 
for help in making this strategy successful, did 
nothing for them but embarrassed and let them 
down, giving them mere talk and promises, and 
changing time-lines, while still giving the 
Zionist entity political and practical support.

Although the advocates of this strategy are 
unwilling formally to admit failure, lest a 
vacuum should form resulting in the call for an 
alternative, the work in this region must 
definitely drive everyone to seek an alternative 
more serious and self-respecting strategy, which 
will better be able to face the reality posed by 
Israel everyday on the ground in defiance of 
everyone – moderates and non-moderates. The 
policy of waiting, marking time, sticking to the 
current policy, testing failed options and 
reproducing them repeatedly is no longer feasible nor possible.

In addition, the general Arab official policy 
seems, unfortunately, unable to keep pace with 
the changes in the region, the rise of new 
players and the growing roles of other players, 
and the resulting challenges facing the Arabs and 
their security, interests and regional roles – 
especially those of the major countries.

Although America continues to weigh influentially 
on several countries in the region, there is 
hidden resentment starting to grow towards it in 
these countries. This includes even those who are 
friends with the United States, simply because it 
lets them down and does not help with issues 
concerning the Arab nation – particularly with 
respect to the Arab-Israeli conflict – and 
indulges the Zionist entity and other regional 
countries at their expense, something which 
increases their embarrassment in front of their 
people, and weakens their ability to continue 
marketing and defending the political moderation 
strategy based on settlement and negotiations.

One of the proofs that strengthen our confidence 
that the future of the region is in our favour is 
the weakening position of the Zionist entity. It 
is true that it is still ahead militarily, and 
that the balance of power still works for it, but 
it is currently encountering many failures. Yes, 
it is capable of waging war, but it has long been unable to achieve victory.

All the facts mentioned above, and what they 
sometimes reflect of bitterness and sometimes of 
promising signs, with a growing awareness among 
the peoples of the region – especially the Arab 
ones, with the open media space and the inability 
to hide the facts, with a growing return of the 
nation's peoples to their authentic Arab-Islamic 
identity and cultural roots, and their increasing 
concern about the current situation of the Arab 
nation and its destiny and future, national 
security and regional and international roles and 
its major issues, at the forefront of which is 
the Arab-Zionist conflict
 All this, in my 
opinion, stimulates the nation into real and 
significant change that has become inevitable. It 
is this which makes me (and those who think 
similarly to me) confident that the future in the 
coming years will be, God willing, for the 
benefit of our nation, notwithstanding the 
current bitterness, pain and concerns. This view 
is reinforced by the fact that this region, as 
evidenced by the facts of history, had always 
eventually succeeded in regaining the initiative 
and defeating the forces of aggression.

Future of the Zionist Enterprise

Through your reading of the course of the Zionist 
enterprise and its current reality, how do you 
see the future of this enterprise? Is it moving 
towards realising "Greater Israel", or is it in decline and regression?

Factual data reinforce the conviction that the 
Zionist enterprise has no future in the region. 
There is a real decline in this enterprise, for 
which expansion was an important characteristic, 
and it is no longer able to continue in this way. 
The construction of the wall (while recognising 
its negative repercussions on the Palestinian 
people), and the withdrawal from southern Lebanon 
and the Gaza Strip are but practical examples of this decline and regression.

Israel, which used to wage war on its neighbours 
and win easily, was able to take the fight to its 
enemy, and used to strike everywhere, now has its 
heartland as a field of battle for the 
Palestinian resistance. This is a repetitive 
phenomenon. The so-called "Israeli home front" is 
now threatened in every war or confrontation and 
is paying the price for its leaders' adventures. 
Moreover, the ruling class in Israel today – and 
on the level of many military, political and 
security leaders – no longer has the capacity of 
the first generation who built this entity, nor 
the will to fight that they had had, not to 
mention rampant corruption in the ruling class, a 
growing number of suicides, the evasion of 
military service, and the declining performance of its security institutions.

Israel has not won a real war since 1967, except 
for the invasion of Beirut in 1982. This is an 
important indicator of the decline of the Zionist 
enterprise's ability, and the fact that it has no 
future. In my estimation, the "Greater Israel" 
project has come to an end, simply because the 
Zionist enemy is no longer able to accomplish it, 
and because Israel continues on the same path as 
did apartheid South Africa. This is a growing 
conviction for many neutral politicians and observers.

After more than 60 years since the establishment 
of this entity, and when the question in the 
Israeli street is not only about the security of 
Israel, but also about its future and destiny, 
this is an important and serious development. 
When the Israeli community questions the basis of 
its existence and future, and the feasibility of 
its enterprise, then the countdown must have begun, God willing.

Saying this is not enough, however; what is 
required is building on it. We are not calling 
for an underestimation of the Zionist entity's 
strength and capabilities (for it is the sensible 
who do not underestimate their enemy) which still 
has many elements of power. Nevertheless, this 
realistic reading and vision, based on many facts 
and indicators, should prompt us not to succumb 
to Israeli threats or conditions for political 
settlement, and not to deal with the Zionist 
enterprise as an inevitable destiny. The real 
option and alternative to the policy of 
submission and the state of helplessness, waiting 
and getting bogged down in negotiations, is 
resistance. The Palestinian people are able, God 
willing, to continue the resistance, but they 
need the backing and participation of the nation.

There is debate among many international parties 
as to whether Israel still constitutes a 
strategic asset for Western interests in the 
region or not. Do you think there is a chance 
that some international parties might reconsider 
the usefulness of further unlimited support to the Zionist entity?

One of Israel's strong points was its ability to 
promote itself in the West as part of Western 
civilisation and as an extension of it, carrying 
its values, way of life and political system of 
democratic governance. It also used to present 
itself as a victim of Nazism in order to draw 
Western sympathy. Today, Israel is no longer so, 
especially after the "Goldstone Report", its 
crimes in the war on Gaza and in Lebanon before 
that, and its crime against the Freedom Flotilla, 
as its aggressions have affected hundreds of 
nationals from dozens of countries, including 
Western ones. Today, Israel is living in a state 
of exposure, and a situation where the moral 
rationale it used to claim and promote earlier is 
being shaken. Israel is falling morally, and its 
true ugly face is being exposed. This is a very important development.

The Western embrace of Israel has suffered a big 
shock, especially among the peoples of the West 
and the elites, due to its heinous crimes and due 
to the Palestinian steadfastness which exposed it 
for what it is, and highlighted the just 
Palestinian cause and its human face. 
Negotiations will result in Israel polishing its 
image for public relations purposes. When Israel 
loses its international incubator, it inflicts 
upon itself a heavy loss, because it is not an 
authentic part of the region, but rather survives 
on the support of the international community, 
especially the West. The Western mind, on the 
other hand, glorifies force, adores it and bases 
its policies upon it. Today, the Zionist entity 
no longer appears to the West as capable of 
imposing what it wants in the region, and this 
means that Western confidence in the ability of 
this entity forcibly to impose its desires in the 
region is eroding. This has undoubtedly changed 
the image of Israel and its functional role in 
the West from being a profitable investment to 
becoming an onerous burden; this will gradually 
impact on Western interaction with the Zionist enterprise in the future.

All these factors demonstrate the premature 
ageing of this enterprise. Usually, when 
senescence appears early in any physical 
structure, it indicates a flaw in formation or 
immunity, as well as a surrounding rejecting 
environment which brought about this ageing. 
Without the slightest doubt,  Palestinian 
steadfastness and resistance, and the 
steadfastness and support of the nation, as well 
as the continuing confrontations with the 
enterprise and nonconformity with its will, is 
what exposed this enterprise and its flaws. 
Hence, the enterprise aged early and was no 
longer able to carry out the same adventures and 
score the same successes as in the past. In 
short, the Zionist enterprise, like all other 
enterprises of occupation, settler-colonialism 
and aggression throughout history, has no 
legitimacy because it is alien to our region and 
lacks the elements of survival. It will, thus, 
end up like all other similar enterprises.

We are a great nation, proud of ourselves, our 
religion, our land, our history, our culture and 
identity, with Palestine and Jerusalem as our 
beating heart and an indicator of our life and 
survival. Therefore, we will not tolerate the 
Zionist entity for long and we will defeat it 
just as we defeated the Crusades and the Mongol advance in the past.

"For it is by turns that We apportion unto people 
such days (of fortune and misfortune)" (Surah 3, Verse 140).

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